Monday, 21 November 2016

A relaxing evening at Spa at Ramside, Durham...

Hello lovelies!

At this time of year, my workload gets pretty hectic.  Being a singing coach and working in various locations means I sometimes need to split myself into five different places, particularly in the run up to Christmas.  So when I was offered the chance to go and review a spa, I couldn't believe my luck.  Relaxation shared with some of my favourite blogging ladies was just what the doctor had ordered, I can't wait for you to read all about it...

I'm ashamed to say that although I live literally five minutes drive away from Ramside Hall, I had never had the opportunity to visit.  It's an absolutely stunning hotel, complete with driving range, function rooms and the newly opened spa and gym; I was really excited to have a look around!  Ramside has recently had a £16 million renovation, with £8 million of that being dedicated to the Spa, gym and wellness centre.  With Christmas approaching, everything looked super festive too!

We met in Fusion, Ramside's newly opened Asian fusion restaurant, where we were given a taster of the winter cocktail menu (sadly I was driving so had to have orange juice!) and left to gossip before our introduction and tour of the facilities.  Krissi said her Midouri cocktail was delicious and left her feeling a little tipsy, so it's definitely worth sampling the menu during your visit.

Next, we were told about the renovation of the hotel and about the various memberships and spa packages available, as well as some amazing winter offers.  I was really surprised to find out that by becoming a member, you get full use of the gym, spa and classes as part of your membership with no extra charges on top-amazing when you think how much a gym membership alone can cost.  Ramside also offer Holistic health plans to help you to get the best out of your training and offer a wellness for cancer spa package, so that those who are suffering from cancer or are post-recovery can get the best out of their spa experience too.

Then it was time for our tour.  We started by going through the gym and chatting to one of the on site personal trainers about some of the benefits of having a Holistic health plan tailored to your needs.  The gym is really impressive and even though we visited it at peak time, there were still plenty of machines available, so thankfully it looks like there'd be no fighting for machines there.  I didn't feel like it was appropriate to take photos whilst people were working out, but the gym does overlook the spa's amazing swimming pool so it's certainly a workout with a view!

Next stop on the tour was the treatment rooms (above).  The staff had kindly left some of the doors open for those rooms not in use so we could take a peek inside.  It was so tempting to curl up on one of the treatment beds and relax, but we had so much more to see, including the most amazing nail bar which would be a perfect add-on for a hen party or wedding stay, or to simply spruce up after a relaxing day laying around by the pool.

If you're interested in booking a couples spa package or a hen party, there are private rooms available that cater for your needs too and that can offer some additional extras to make your spa even more special.  I loved this bubble chair in the private room-I wish I had one at home!

Back downstairs, we were given our first viewing of the amazing spa.  I was really impressed with the hydrotherapy pool which has different areas to work different muscles in the body; I definitely could do with this after a run!  The swimming pool is amazing too; it's just over a metre in depth so perfect from walking offering more hydrotherapy options, but also great if like me, you just wanted a swim but never get the chance to do so!

Hydrotherapy pool

After seeing everything in the flesh, I was ready to jump right into the pool, but alas we had food from Fusion to sample first.  The staff had laid on on the most impressive buffet for us to try, complete with duck and vegetable spring rolls, skewered chicken with satay sauce, dim sum, sushi and really delicious pad Thai.  I love Thai food and sushi and was so glad I hadn't eaten since lunch, the perfect way to make room for all of the delicious food on offer!

I had two helpings, the food was sensational-I'll definitely be taking my Mister for food at Fusion

After filling our tummies, it was finally time to use the spa.  We were each given a complimentary robe, towels and flip-flops, and after being sent away with instructions on how to use the lockers it was time to get our spa on!

I spent my spa time with Krissi and Laura, and after taking some obligatory robe selfies, we headed to the spa.  We decided to take some photos to show you first, so that we could put our cameras away and really chill out afterwards.  We were obsessed with the little teepee type seating and all took turns to cuddle up in one like it was our own little hideaway.  The seating was super comfy-perfect for lounging by the pool.

The pool was a perfect temperature for swimming, and there's even a jacuzzi right beside it to relax those muscles after taking a dip.

 A view of Fusion from the hydrotherapy pool room...

 and the hydro pool itself!
The outdoor hot-tub was amazing even if it was a cold winter evening!


We started in the hydro pool; it was amazing!  We floated around to all of the different areas and my muscles definitely felt relaxed afterwards.  We then went for a dip outdoors, followed by the jacuzzi, the pool, the sauna and the menthol steam room.  We had around two hours use of the facilities and it was more than enough time to fit everything in!  My favourite was the outdoor area; I loved the hot tub, but I didn't like how freezing I felt on my mad dash back inside after I'd gotten out of it!

Thank you so much to the staff at Spa at Ramside and Fusion and Sorted PR for inviting me to take part in such an amazing evening.  All of the details on memberships and packages at Spa Ramside can be accessed here and for Fusion here (there are packages available that combine both).  There are also private rooms that can be booked for group and couples spa treatments, also accessible online.



Monday, 14 November 2016

Fashion illustration @ Orange Pip Market, Middlesbrough...

Hello lovelies!

The last Saturday of every month sees the amazing Orange Pip Market take place on Baker and Bedford Street in Middlesbrough.  Think amazing Artisan food and cool music spread out right across the two streets, snuggled in alongside some of the best boutique eating places you've ever come across.  So what's this got to do with fashion I hear you ask?  Let me tell you all about it...

A little in car selfie with my lovely friend Krissi

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know already that I have a love affair with fashion illustration.  I first explored this on a day course at The Bowes Museum lead by the lovely and extremely talented Frances Moffatt!  I've been lucky enough to keep in touch with Frances, and when Krissi and I found out that she was drawing fashion portraits at the Pip Market, we couldn't wait to visit and see her in action!

So on a blustery October Saturday, under a fun pink canopy, we gave Frances the task of drawing each of us in turn, whilst the other snapped away.  It's always lovely to catch up with Frances and luckily, we caught her quite early into her shift before she got super busy.  

I went first...

Sitting still and shutting up has never been my strong point, but somehow my chattering wasn't too much of a distraction for Frances, as she set to work sketching me out with pencil before moving to ink.  I hadn't planned my outfit (I'd dressed to keep warm!) but I loved the way that she picked out all of the details; including my love heart earrings!  I was more than impressed with the finished result!

Next up it was Krissi's turn...

She was a much better behaved model than me with my constant fidgeting and it was amazing to see her portrait come to life.  It was all about the fur with Krissi's picture...

I love the textures and shadows in her finished portrait!  We were super grateful that Frances drew us, so when we visited the Songbird Bakery for cupcakes to bring home, we made sure to get one as a treat for Frances too (and they were delicious).  If you plan on visiting the Songbird Bakery, my advice would be to go early; they run out of cupcakes later in the day!!

After sitting in the cold for a long time posing, we were ready for some food and decided on Barbarossa, a pizza kitchen and bar offering amazing wood-fired sourdough pizza.  The interior is a blogger's dream, with quirky artwork and hard-wood table tops and the food is simply irresistible!

We chose delicious smoked Arancini which was mouth-wateringly good and shared a sour-dough chicken pizza-it was a taste sensation!  All washed down with Gingerella Ginger Beer (in the coolest bottle!) for me and some rhubarb lemonade for Miss K!  I loved Barbarossa and will definitely be taking my Mister there the next time we're in Middlesbrough!

From stuffing our faces with good food, we wandered down through the market (apparently the scotch egg stall is extremely popular!!) and headed towards MIMA, to browse the gift shop and grab a coffee.  Between all of the quirky gifts and beautiful greetings cards, we found a colouring book from a famous friend...

The Fashion Exercise Book by Frances Moffatt!

MIMA is set in a beautiful area of Middlesbrough, with pretty fountains and beautiful buildings-such a nice place to end the day with some outfit of the day photos-thanks Krissi for your amazing photography as always!

Bag: Vivienne Westwood, Scarf: Vintage Burberry, Jeans: Levi's, Boots: Ugg, Jacket (leather): Triple S, Bomber Jcket: Marks and Spencer

We had such a fun road trip to Middlesbrough!  You can visit Orange Pip Market on the last Saturday of every month (November 26th will be the next one).  If you want to see more work by Frances you can add her on instagram here.  If you're wanting a portrait, make sure to visit Frances early in the day to book your slot to avoid disappointment!


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